Letters to the Editor

Concerned about religious approach

I have heard rumor that an organization is moving into Poulsbo that has the potential to harm the youth in our community. The organization is called “Coffee Oasis.” Its purpose is to rehabilitate homeless teens by bringing the “hope of Christ to the pain on the streets.”

My concerns center around the right-wing religious approach that Coffee Oasis employs, its lack of unbiased oversight, and the ill-equipped people employed to “help” homeless youth.

First, the director, Dave Frederick, is a Baptist minister who funnels youth into his “church.” When a youth is not a “believer” of his flavor of Christianity, he or she does not fit the criteria for assistance by the organization. For example, a youth who identifies himself or herself as homosexual is expected to be “healed” of homosexuality and “repent” of “sexual sin” in order to be “right with God.” This well-intentioned but naïve activity hints of a cult.

Next, Mr. Frederick, a quiet and likeable man, answers to a Board of Directors that includes his wife and other like-minded individuals. Again, people of different faiths are excluded from participating in or questioning activities of the organization. The director himself is in charge of recruiting board members, who come from his circle of friends and adhere to his beliefs. Does the term “rubber-stamp club” apply here?

Finally, the staff of Coffee Oasis lack education in social work or psychology. The homeless and at-risk children are in the hands of untrained “case managers” who guide them in religious growth. Family and friends are given jobs for which they are not qualified or trained. This lack of expertise is dangerous when our most vulnerable youth lack parents or adults to protect them. Other organizations that work with at-risk youth employ psychologists, behavior specialists, substance abuse counselors, educators, and professionally educated social workers. The belief that “healing” of homelessness only happens supernaturally is dangerous.

I propose that the city support an organization that is either non-faith-based, or has several faiths represented, like the Interfaith Caregivers or Hospice. Mayor Erickson, teachers, counselors, business-owners, lawyers, politicians, parents, pastors, priests, and rabbis, please speak out! If Coffee Oasis is welcomed in Poulsbo, an already marginalized portion of our population will fall prey to a potentially abusive, neglectful entity.

Jackson Pedersen
Lemolo Shores


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